Six of the 1,844 inmates who escaped from the Owerri Custodial Centre, Imo State, have voluntarily returned, according to a spokesman for the Nigerian Correctional Service.
Thirty-five others chose not to abscond during the attack, authorities said.
The Nigeria Police Force has blamed outlawed secessionist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its paramilitary wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) for the attack.
“The attempt by the attackers to gain access to the Police armoury at the Headquarters was totally and appropriately resisted by Nigeria Police Force,” the force said in a statement Monday, adding that no lives were lost in the incident.
Buhari also directed the country’s law enforcement agencies to apprehend fleeing inmates, and arrest the perpetrators who “are believed to be deadly criminals,” the President said.
Nnamdi Kanu, leader for separatist group, IPOB, has denied the organization’s involvement in the attacks.
He told CNN: “We have no hand in what transpired in Owerri, Imo State. Having said that, we do recognize and acknowledge the anger, resentment and a sense of injustice being felt by many people — especially the young ones,” he said.
“So what’s happening now is people trying to avenge the death of their loved ones at the hands of the Nigerian security services. Some people, I believe, took it upon themselves to say ‘enough is enough. Anywhere that a government allows injustice to fester, they’re only inviting anarchy, Kanu added.
The Buhari regime has continued to clampdown on IPOB’s activities, fearing that an escalation of secessionism — particularly in the group’s strongholds in Eastern Nigeria may engineer another Nigeria-Biafra civil war.
It led to a bitter civil war from 1967 to 1970 and more than one million people died of starvation in the aftermath of the war.